6 Things You Didn't Know About Caffeine

When I wake up in the morning, my mind goes to one thing and one thing only: that first cup of hot, steaming coffee. I can't survive a day without at least one serving of the stuff, and it got me wondering, is caffeine addictive? The amount of coffee and tea I drink each day and the amount of money I spend on it speaks for itself, but does science justify my personal craving?

If you have ever tried to give up coffee, tea, or soda, then you know how hard it is to kick a caffeine habit. When you stop consuming caffeine, you might find yourself getting headaches, feeling tired or anxious, and even becoming more irritable. Without caffeine, you find yourself feeling like crap, and people around you might not love your new attitude either, but why? What is it about caffeine that makes us so dependent on it? Sure, it tastes delicious and gives you a little energy boost, but is it as addicting as we make it out to be?

In short, the answer is yes. Like tobacco or opiates, caffeine is addictive, but not quite in the same way. To better understand the power and control it has over coffee addicts everywhere, here are six things to know about caffeine.

1. Caffeine Is A Stimulant

Like other drugs, caffeine is a stimulant that acts on the central nervous system. When consumed appropriately, it can give you small bursts of energy, but when you have too much of it, you can feel anxious, stressed, and unable to relax. Like other stimulants, caffeine should be consumed in moderation, otherwise...

2. You Can Develop A Tolerance To Caffeine

Because of its properties as a stimulant, caffeine can become less effective the more you consume it. Over time, you can develop a tolerance to it, meaning to get that same burst of energy you so desperately need, you'll need to gradually increase your caffeine intake over time, or reset your tolerance.

3. There Is Such A Thing As Too Much Caffeine

Increased tolerance isn't the only thing that happens when you consume too much caffeine. Your heartbeat can increase, you can get heartburn, develop muscle twitches, and it can even cause diuresis, an increased production of urine and the reason you have to pee so much when you drink too much caffeine. With facts like that, it makes you wonder why we drink it at all.

4. You Can Have Caffeine Withdrawals

As of May 2013, the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) officially recognized caffeine withdrawal as a disorder. That's right, your shaky behavior that happens when you don't have enough coffee is a real thing, not just something in your head. Caffeine withdrawals can have similar effects to consuming too much caffeine, including irritability and headaches, but it can also cause constipation, dizziness, and plenty of other unpleasant symptoms.

5. Humans Aren't The Only Animals That Love Caffeine

Certain nectar from flowers also contain caffeine, and it is used to attract bees through a drug buzz not much different than the one you feel after a cup of coffee or energy drink. That's right, bees are buzzing with a love of caffeine too, so you shouldn't feel so bad about your own obsession.

6. Caffeine Is Addictive

The bottom line is yes, caffeine is addictive. According to Dr. Roland Griffiths and research sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, "Caffeine is the world's most widely used mind-altering drug," and over 80 percent of adults in the U.S. use it. While most people feel the mild effects of caffeine and regard it as a positive substance in their life, it can be addicting and create some negative effects, like withdrawals and dependency.

So the next time you go to make another coffee run or crack open that second energy drink before going out, ask yourself: is it worth it? While caffeine in moderation is perfectly fine, it's always a good idea to take a step back and re-evaluate just how much you consume.

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